Early motoring years P4 – blue oval classics!

I threatened last time out to trawl the memory banks for reminiscences about various ‘performance’ Ford cars I owned back in the early 1980’s, when you could pick them up for pocket money. So here goes…

Lotus Cortina mark 2

more properly known as the Cortina Twin Cam, mine looked pretty much the same as this one, apart from a) in 1982/3 mine had a black stripe I think, and b) the one in the photo looks to be in great condition – mine certainly wasn’t. In fact it was a bit of a dog, with a fair bit of interior trim missing – even in those days some bits were hard to find. All sorts of reliability issues as well – it refused to start with monotonous regularity, and as an impecunious 21 year old I didn’t have the expertise or the money to sort it out. I’ve never owned a Lotus since and this car is probably the reason for that. Didn’t have it long, and quickly moved it on.

Escort Mexico Mark 1

Mine, JEA 377K, looked rather like this one (it was certainly Daytona Yellow with black stripes), but without the spotlamps, and again, certainly not in this condition. And I think it was on steel wheels too. I bought it from a bloke in Walsall, and, driving it home, wondered why it wasn’t quite as lively as I’d hoped. I found the ignition timing was 180 degrees out – I suppose it’s a testament to the strength of the 1600 crossflow engine that it didn’t cause lasting damage. To date, this remains the only car I’ve ever written off in an accident, when a myopic pensioner punted me into the barriers on a roundabout in Reading in Spring 1983, ripping off the front crossmember and suspension. Amazingly, it still seems to survive according to the DVLA, but seems to be fitted with a 4.2 litre engine! I had heard it had been converted to a dragster so that may explain that…

After a brief interlude with a very quick and well-built white Mini Clubman 1380cc, the next fast Ford outside my house was..

Capri Mark 1 (facelift) 3.0 GXL manual

again, very similar to the one in the photo, in Daytona Yellow with a black vinyl roof. But without the horrid rear window slats – the one in the picture may actually be a V8 powered Perana from South Africa? This was a brilliant car and cemented my love of Capris. It never let me down – in fact I owned it twice as I sold it to a long standing friend who owned it for about a year before asking me if I wanted it back as he’d been offered a Mach 1 Mustang (which 35 years later he still owns).

I’d driven Capris before – a friend had a 2.0 V4 version (known affectionately as the Diesel Dumper) which was horrible, and a couple of 1.6’s which were a little underwhelming, but the torque of the Essex V6 was a revelation. In 1984/5 my then boss had a near-new 2.8 injection which I did a couple of long trips in, but again, preferred my old 3.0. It wasn’t the last ‘proper’ Capri (to my mind they have to have a V6 to be regarded as such) but more of that another time.

These days all of the above (especially the Mexico) command very high prices – I get the simplicity and the motorsport heritage bit, but with hindsight I do find them a little underwhelming in terms of their performance – give me a BMW 2002 Tii anyday. That said, I certainly wouldn’t turn any of them away if I was offered a good one. I feel I’ve missed out by never owning a Cortina 1600E, or an Escort Mark 1 RS2000. That may have to change soon..

Next time, we’ll move into the world of company cars when I gained a foothold in the motor trade.